Lineups at a Winnipeg community COVID-19 testing site on July 21, 2020. (Source: Glenn Pismenny/ CTV News Winnipeg)

Long lines and wait times continue to be a problem at many COVID-19 testing sites in Winnipeg.

With the city and surrounding area being in Code Orange and active cases continuing to rise, the province said people should expect to see more sites soon.

Health Minister Cameron Friesen made the comment at the COVID-19 briefing on Monday, noting the plan is to double the number of testing sites in the coming weeks.

"I would want people to know that improvements are coming as I said last week. Help is on the way. But I would want people to understand that we're talking about a matter of days before they see those early improvements and not simply a matter of weeks," said Friesen.

Dr. Brent Roussin, the province's chief provincial public health officer, said he understands people are frustrated with the wait times.

"We are actively working on those solutions that's both sustainable and will evolve the situation," said Roussin.

Friesen also mentioned that new sites – which should start to show up within a week – are not the only solutions the government is looking at to improve the current situation.

"So we're working hard with the regions to understand where they could pull additional workforce from. How they could facilitate elongating the hours of operation. Looking for efficiencies," said Friesen, who used the new mobile testing site as an example, as it was able to increase its testing limits.


Friesen was asked Monday if there has been any one factor to the struggles of the testing sites and Friesen said there is a list of issues that the province is working on to fix.

He also noted that Winnipeg and Manitoba are not alone, as other provinces are also facing similar problems.

"We are all faced with the same challenges that, with the fall coming, there are people looking to get that test performed and that systems are having to walk and chew gum at the same time," said Friesen. "We have not that same ability to redeploy people and simply shutter the healthcare system to do it."

Friesen added that the workforce is a challenge but the government is also looking for creative solutions to that problem, like if other people besides nurses can be trained to swab someone properly for the test.

"There is a short-term pain right now. Manitobans are feeling that. We plan to produce a long-term gain. We have said help is on the way and I make that commitment."